tv Mc Laughlin Group PBS July 27, 2013 12:30pm-1:01pm PDT
from washington the mclaughlin group, the american original, for over three decades the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk. >> issue one, the vietnam syndrome. >> both the united states and vietnam are participating in what would be an extraordinarily ambitious effort to increase trade, commerce and add transparency in terms of commercial relationships throughout the asian pacific region. >> given the progress of our bilateral relationship over the past 18 years, it is time now to form a comprehensive policy
to further strengthen our relations in various areas. >> president obama met this week at the white house with the president of the socialist republic of vietnam. at the top of the agenda was bilateral trade between the two nations now at $24 billion how to enlarge that trade volume. the summit comes as vietnam's trade with china still its no. 1 trading partner is cooling. china's economy is in an incipient slump. at the same time tensions have developed between vietnam and china due to china's territorial interest off vietnam's 900-mile coast south of china's province. the united states is vietnam's second largest trading partner and also in japan prime minister minister abe won with
big numbers having run on a policy with dramatically increasing japan's defense spending to counter china's military buildup. against this back drop the united states and vietnam have agreed to establish a constructive partnership on the basis of equality, mutual respect and benefits. the transpacific partnership countries are still working out the tpp trade deal. they are australia, canada, chile, japan, malaysia, mexico, new zealand, peru, singapore, the united states and vietnam. question, is vietnam vital to president obama's asia pivot? pat buchanan? >> well it, is part of it, but the united states' economy is 100 times as large as vietnam. they want our investment capital. they want access to the largest market in the world. we get access to this little
teeny one. most important they want the united states to come in and in effect be on their side in the great conflict for the south china sea with the parasol and sprattly islands are both claimed by china and there's a real possibility of a territorial conflict in the south china sea between vietnam and china and they want to draw us into a potential conflict there and it is in our interest to stay out of that particular conflict. >> is that true? maybe it's in our interest to join hands with vietnam in some kind of retention wall against china. >> well, vietnam is terrified of what china is doing. they are interpreting the movings in the south china sea as -- moves in the south china sea as aggressive and you've got oil in various -- minerals are at stake and so vietnam is looking around for allies. china has been a historic
enemy. they have fought many wars, the last in 1979 and so vietnam fits very nicely into the white house pivot towards asia and it's a thriving economy. we need the export market and frankly this many decades after the war people still want to somehow justify what we did there and you hear a lot of conservatives who don't like to admit we lost the war, say but look, they're capitalists now and all the trade is going on. i think there's some psychological interplay here as well. >> let me pick that up for you, eleanor. okay, lessons from vietnam. 501 51 years ago the u.s. intervened -- 51 years ago the u.s. intervened in the civil war in south vietnam. more than 58,000 americans died in the war. the scale of this loss spawned
a massive anti-war movement and deeply divided public opinion. in 1973 former president nixon wrote the power peace accords where the security was turned over to the army of the republic of vietnam under a program dubbed vietnamizeation. in 1975 the south vietnamese capital of saigon fell to the north and vietnam was united under a communist government. 20 years alert the u.s. and communist vietnam -- later the u.s. and communist vietnam reestablished relations. today vietnam competes with china as a source of u.s. manufacturerring and it is a major tourist -- manufacturing and it is a major tourist destination for americans. >> question, one of the lessons for intervention in places like afghanistan and syria from
vietnam? i ask you, david. >> you saw the letter from the chairman of the joint chiefs explaining why there were options in syria, but they were difficult and you'd have to think about how you would get out of them, how those would end politically and how much they cost. every word he wrote had vietnam running through it. the lessons of vietnam i think are that generation of the top military leaders today, they came of age as officers in vietnam, many of them, and they remembered the fact you can have all the military advances, strength and firepower, but if you don't know where you're going politically and what your end game is, you have a military that cannot deliver. i think those lessons are etched all through the top leadership of the pentagon today. >> was that noted very heavily by the press? >> i think the people understand that's the context and, of course, you have the pryor sort of historical resonance -- extraordinary sort of historical reverence of john kerry. he came to the senate and tells them he now regretted his military service in vietnam.
so you have a whole generation. you have the defense secretary who is a noncommissioned officer in vietnam. it's a whole generation steeped in vietnam. >> humble pie. there were lessons with president johnson and robert mcnamara. johnson admitted he wanted to pull out of vietnam but couldn't find a way to do so without undermining his own political viability. so he continued to send american draftees to fight and die in vietnam in what johnson himself believed was an unwinnable war. his defense secretary robert mcnamara prevailed upon him to do so. the vietnam war escalated from a u.s. south vietnam advisory role to a peak of 534,000 combat forests in the field supporting -- forces in the field supporting south vietnam.
robert mcnamara in his 1995 memoir described the war as a terrible error. as for lbj the war crushed him physically and emotionally. he resolved his dilemma by declining to run for reelection. as for the mood in the country, it was reflected in the words of lieutenant john kerry who served two tours in vietnam, if 1966 to 19-- 1966 to 1970. lieutenant kerry was awarded a silver star, bronze star and three purple hearts. here's a piece of his testimony on behalf of vietnam veterans against the war. >> how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in vietnam? how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? >> question, president obama escalated the u.s. troop presence in afghanistan and he's now poised to give u.s. military aid to syria's rebels.
so has commander in chief obama absorbed the lessons of vietnam? mortimer zuckerman? >> well, i can't answer that question to be honest, but the whole context is very different. what happened in vietnam was at a time when there was a great fear of communist expansion. that was sort of the bugaboo of what was going on in american politics at that time. there's nothing like that here to provide weapons, for example, to syrian rebels is not the same thing as getting 500,000 plus troops involved in a war zone and, in fact, what happens there and particularly in the middle east is a lot of our allies are pushing to have at least some level of support for the rebels in syria. i think that is a whole different kind of dimension you have to put into what happened in vietnam as compared to this. >> the lesson, john, that obama has gotten is the lesson not of vietnam. he was a kid. it's a lesson of iraq. what happened to the united states there, the lesson of afghanistan, he came in
determined to extricate the united states from these two wars the way richard nixon extricated the united states from vietnam from 1968 to '73. i was right there with him in those days that he did it. we had 535,000 troops in vietnam when we took office. five years later there were none. >> yeah, but the decision to go into iraq was just that. it was a decision and vietnam was an incremental involvement that carried over several presidencies. >> what's the point? >> the point is that the lessons of vietnam are very relevant today and this president is terrified of getting sucked into syria which is why his policy is mostly a little here, a little there and the guiding principle is no boots on the ground. that's definitely out of vietnam. if you talk to marvin kolb who has an excellent book called the road to war presidential commitments honored and betrayed, he looks over these president is is from true --
presidencies from truman to nixon and sees the gradual involvement to war and today what drove all the men then was this hubris about american power. he has an anecdote where dan rusk who was secretary of state slaps his hand on the table next to a bottle of johnny red saying if america wants something to happen, it happens and that was after the offensive. obama does not have that illusion. >> what are your thoughts on this, david? >> i think it's clear if syria was a problem entirely on its own, there would be no action, but why is the president thinking about acting in syria? it's because american credibility is at stake in the much more urgent crisis in iran, but the president has told iran he will not tolerate her getting a nuclear weapon and he also set his red lines with the chemical weapons and syria. they then seemed to use the chemical weapons.
having set that red line, there was tremendous pressure on america when it says something it means it and i don't think you can separate it from the other conflict. >> what lesson do you see from vietnam? is there kind of an automatic propulsion to keep going, to inflate, to get 58,000 americans killed and the volume, half a million troops over there? >> the precise opposite. i think eleanor's point is very well made that that hubris, the idea of slamming the table and saying american firepower can do what it likes -- >> that hubris is gone. >> -- nobody believes that. the remarkable thing traveling across the country writing about the war in afghanistan is that the american public, when they are extraordinarily respectful of the troops and welcoming them home from afghanistan, they will often say explicitly we are doing this in part because we feel bad about how we treated the returning troops from vietnam. i think that's a real hangover from vietnam. >> between 1966 and i've been looking at the polls 70% supported johnson, 80%
supported the war in vietnam. look, that was a very popular war. it was 88-2 for the tonkin gulf resolutions. it was very popular in '60 -- resolutions. it was very popular in '65. '66 it game a probable. '68 the democratic -- problem. '68 the democratic party was split three ways. >> there was widespread popular up rest of that war, vietnam. >> it started in '65 on the campuses. >> i can't believe your statistics at the end. >> look, it was 1960 -- >> i lived through that. >> but 1965 early on there was no probable. johnson won the election in -- problem. johnson won the election in a giant landslide. >> should the long term lessons of vietnam include respect for the nonintervention in another nation's sovereign affairs, in other words, civil wars, don't intervene? >> this was part of a cold war, not just a civil war, but as
for interventions in civil war, stay out of it. >> try and do it with israel, our close ally. >> there's going to be a push for a war in iran and it's coming this year. >> eleanor. >> there will be a push for it and if this president has learned, he will not be bombing iran. renewed respect for knowing your limitations and renewed respect for understanding something about your enemy. we went into vietnam with knowing nothing about the culture, the religion, nothing. >> david rennie? >> i don't think nonintervention is the principle. i think it's understanding the risks and i think with iran i would disagree with pat. if your choice is bombing iran or allowing them to have a bomb, there is argument for taking action. >> when is humankind going to reach a post war, a post war continuing mentality that prevails? >> not soon. >> not soon? >> never. >> never? >> only the dead know the end of war said plato.
>> how miserably pessimistic you are. >> and macarthur. >> war is passe! >> you tell it to the syrians. >> john, i hope you're right. i don't believe you are. i think when you are sitting in the white house, you have to make decisions based not just on homes but on realism. >> i hope he realizes the quicksand that will suck him in deeper and deeper. issue two, iran's new leader. ahmadinejad is out. rouhani is in. tyran has a new president -- iran has a new president. hassan rouhani is a 65-year-old iranian cleric. he won with 60.7% of the vote six weeks ago and he will succeed president ahmadinejad in august. rouhani is considered an iranian moderate whose focus is iran's shattered economy. plus this. we are ready to show more transparency to the world.
this transparency assertion is piquing the interest of the white house which favors "direct talk with iran." the two nations have not had diplomatic relations for over three decade says deck -- decades since 1980. he has already made it clear iran is not backing down on the enrichment of uranium which iran insists is for electrical and medical purposes. at his first post election news conference rouhani said this. "neither threat nor sanctions are effective. the solution lies in holding negotiations and reaching a mutual trust. the solution of reaching a mutual trust is possible." question, incoming president rouhani takes off in august. how fast should president obama move to engage iran in
negotiations with him? david rennie? >> he should move fast be but extraordinarily tough and say there should be very intrusive international inspections because we don't trust this new guy more than the last guy because they want the bomb. >> you don't trust him any more than ahmadinejad? >> he was a negotiator eight years ago. >> they believe and maybe they're right this is the only thing that will defend the country and their regime if they have nuclear weapons. so they're not about to give it up. >> let me tell you this, john. this fellow was elected on the fact i'm going to get sanctions lifted and bring iran back in the community of nations. i agree with david, get massive intrusive inspections on everything, but you'll have to agree on their right to a peaceful uranium program. i think we can get a deal and i think obama ought to go to it.
>> okay. hold on. reaction to rouhani. president obama was at the g-8 summit in northern ireland when president rouhani was elected in june. president obama expressed "cautious optimism that with a new election there would be a new dialogue regarding iran's nuclear program." but israel's prime minister benjamin netanyahu was less impressed. >> they're building icbms to reach the american mainland within a few years. they're pursuing an alternate route of plutonium that is enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb, one route, plutonium, another route, icbm, intercontinental ballistic missiles to reach you. they already have missiles to reach us. they're doing that after the elections. >> as for the iranian president rouhani himself? >> he believes he's criticizing his predecessor for being a wolf in wolf's clothing. his strategy is be a wolf in
sheep's clothing. smile and build a bomb. >> prime minister netanyahu has these demands and in advice. >> what really counts is what the iranians do. they have to stop all enrichment of nuclear material, take out the enriched uranium, dismantle and shut down the illegal nuclear facility and if sanctions don't work, then they have to know that you'll be prepared to take military action. that's the congress -- only thing that will get their attention. >> nothing is going to change netanyahu's mind and he's right to the extent rouhani was the chief negotiator in the nuclear talks eight years ago. he's gentlemanly and does things with a smile. he's more civil, but did he campaign on taking a more moderate approach. the economy is really choked off and there's been some movement already because the president of iraq, maliki, has offered to help in the negotiations and basically
maliki even though we installed him he's a puppet for iran. so iran probably put him up to that. so there's some ferment going on there and it's positive. >> are you positive on negative? >> i'm positive. we'll find out quickly if this is for real or a ploy to buy time to develop the nuclear weapons. >> what about the iranians are saying that it's for electricity and because they want to sell their oil? they've got plenty of oil, but they want to sell it and they say they need to sell it and that's why they installed the electricity, make money and -- >> look, they're not doing this for nuclear power. the point is u.s. intelligence says they have not made a decision to go for a nuclear weapon. we have followed it. they haven't crossed any red line yet. after 20 years and there's a reason why they haven't, i
don't think they've made a decision to go for a nuclear weapon because i don't know why it would be in their interest. >> they want to keep the option open. you would never endure the extraordinary pain to your economy if all you wanted was civilian electricity. they're making it. they want to be in a position where if they want to do a sprint to the bomb, they can do a sprint to the bomb. our hope is they stop. >> they want the plutonium for cardiac uses and -- >> they don't need that much. >> i know they don't need that much. there's a level they can go to without transgressing the will of israel. what right does israel have to dictate terms to -- >> they feel that they're -- >> especially when ahmadinejad who had those provocative things to stay or interpreted to be provocative on the front page of the new york times that israel should not be on the face of the earth, something like that? you remember that? there was a new leader there
now. >> it's the only democracy in the middle east and america's closest ally. >> what is your magazine saying editorially about this? >> we think the new president is -- his sweet smile is a danger and we think you talk, but then you have to have these incredibly tough conditions. issue three, by george, it's a boy. >> more her looks thankfully. >> the great kate wait is over. the world got its first glimpse of his royal highness, prince george alexander louis of cambridge, the 8-pound 6-ounce baby boy born to prince william and wife kate, the dutchess of cambridge. prince george is third in line to the british throne occupied now by his great grandmother, queen elizabeth, ii. grandfather charles and father william are first and second in line.
the news was accompanied by bells ringing at westminster abbey, special gun salute, famous uk landmarks bathed in blue like london bridge and, of course, everywhere ecstatic british throngs and also everywhere royal baby fever is serious business notably in britain but also everywhere. baby-related merchandise alone like these adorable union flag baby shoes would boost the british economy by $380 million upwards. indeed the royal family is one of britain's most lucrative brands set to bring in an estimated 1.9 billion pounds. that's b as in boy, billion pounds to britain's economy this year alone through tourism and merchandise. and sense the advent of william and kate the popularity of the royals is high. 77% support the monarchy compared to a low 50% in the
aftermath of the death of diana, princess of wales. question, over the past two decades the british royalty have fallen in and out of public favor with some advocating an end to the monarchy tradition. what are the odds this baby will one day be king of england? david rennie? >> better than ours. i think they're in amazingly good shape at the moment and part of that is the british public. we like our royals either very young or very old and it's when they're middle aged and misbehaving they get into trouble. that's what you saw two decades ago, but now the queen has been on the throne more than 60 years. her first prime minister was winston churchill. she's the only queen that anyone in britain has known. the other extraordinary thing being based in america is i thought you went to a lot of trouble to get rid of king george, but people are pretty excited about this little prince george. i don't really get it. >> listen, william, kate and harry, even though harry is a bit of a wild man, he's a great
soldier -- >> what do you mean a wild man. >> had too good of time in vegas. >> he's a young man. >> they are extraordinarily popular for americans. americans are following this thing. they're all for this young couple. frankly, they like the queen, too. i think charlie is not quite as popular. >> diana was only 20 years old when she gave birth to william 31 years ago. she was clearly unhappy and that was a rocky time, but she is an icon and she brought some beautiful genes into that family and this young couple, they're mature, grounded. they drove away with him at the wheel with the baby. they weren't driven away in a limousine. they really seem to be able to relate to normal people. i think it's a wonderful time and they're a great symbol for the country and great role models. >> do you believe prince george will be king? >> yes. it won't be for a while because prince charles has been waiting for a long time and so has -- >> they have long lived kings. it could be like 2070 or 2080.
>> it's an appealing as family you'll ever see and they have humanized the royal family in a way i think is quite remarkable. >> you think it's too good to be true? >> why? >> i don't know. >> i hope it is. this is not my field of expert, but i can only think they -- specialty, but i can only think they certainly have a certain kind of tone about him. >> well, princess diane that, remember her? >> -- princess diana, remember her? >> yeah. >> was that a low point for the monarchy? >> she was a troubled lady that was treated badly. i think what you're seeing now at a time of incredible distrust of politicians, i think the queen in part benefits from the great genius of the british royal family is they never discuss their politics or take a political position. if they keep doing that, they'll be in reasonable good shape. >> they're a unifying symbol in the country like nothing else.
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